Shopping for the Best RV Solar Panels and Kits 2018

the-6-Best-RV-Solar-Panel

Owning a recreational vehicle means that you also have to consider investing in a solar panel because this vehicle serves as a fantastic application of solar power. While solar energy can’t be expected to work as a perfect source of power, it still delivers plenty of benefits to RV owners, including the fact that it has easy to access components.

In addition, a solar panel is easy to set up while also ensuring that you will get a consistent supply of quiet, clean, and green power. It is possible for you to enjoy using topped-off batteries without the risk of them causing odor, pollution, and noise.

Another advantage of the best RV solar panel is that it serves as your saving grace, especially if you want to extend your trip most of the time. Once you have chosen the best one, you can just have it fitted on your vehicle’s roof. Once installed, you can expect it to start supplying all your onboard facilities and appliances with their needed power.

Do you want to learn more about the best solar panels for RV use? Then let us start by learning a couple of things about six of the most reliable products in the RV solar panel niche.

Comparison of RV Solar Panels and Kits

Product

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Renogy 100 - Best of the Best

  A+

$

WindyNation - Best Bang for the Buck

A

$

 A-

$

ALLPOWERS - Editor's Choice

  A+

$

Renogy 200 - Editor's Choice

  A+

$

A

$

Best RV Solar Panels and Kits 2018

1. Renogy 100-watt 12-volt Mono-crystalline Solar Starter Kit - Best of the Best

If you are hunting for the best RV solar panel, then I can say that the Renogy 100-watt 12-volt Mono-crystalline Solar Starter Kit is a treat. I find this solar starter kit impressive when used on off-grid applications, like on RVs, boats, trailers, cabins, and sheds.

It rewards buyers with plenty of benefits, including its guaranteed grid independence as well as its ability to produce power quietly. The kit comes complete with an 8-feet, 10AWG tray cable, which you can use to connect the battery and charge controller with ease.

It is designed intuitively, too, and features a sealed, flooded, and gel charging algorithm fully prepared. I like the fact that its battery has a 4-stage charging process as I noticed how helpful it is in promoting a more rapid and efficient and safer charging of the battery.

The charge controller, the Renogy Wanderer, is also a bit advantage, too, as it has several electronic protections. It offers protection from overcharging, short circuit, reversed polarity, and overload. It is also possible to expand the system up to 400 watts.

What’s more? You’ll surely love the pre-drilled holes at the back as they promote quick and safe mounting. It’s a well-built solar panel designed to last a long time. In addition, it is lightweight plus very easy to install.

One possible downside is the fact that it has MC4 connectors that are quite hard to unhook. This isn’t too much of an issue, though, as solar panels are actually designed to remain in place for several years, so there’s no need to unhook the connectors too often.

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    Ideal for off-grid applications, like for your RV
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    Produces/supplies power quietly
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    Intuitive design

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    Guarantees a rapid, efficient, and safe battery charging – thanks to the 4-stage charging process
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    Lightweight and easy to install

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    Quick and safe to mount – thanks to the pre-drilled holes

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    MC4 connectors are quite hard to unhook.

This solar panel starter kit from Renogy is still good for your recreational vehicle as it has most of the components that you require from this product.

2. WindyNation 100-watt Solar Panel - Best Bang for the Buck

What I like the most about the WindyNation 100-watt Solar Panel is that it has most of the components required for this product to work in one kit. There is a 30-amp P30L LCD display charge controller, which can be adjusted by the user.

In addition, there are other components, like the battery temperature sensor, MC4 connectors, mounting hardware, and 40-feet 12 AWG solar cable. An installation manual is even around for the convenience of users. It is known for working perfectly on recreational vehicles, cabins, boats, and homes.

It also works well for remote power and backup use. This solar panel kit is capable of providing free, clean, and renewable power up to a hundred watts. I love the PWM solar charge controller integrated into this solar panel because its settings can be easily adjusted.

Such controller is capable of handling a max of four 100-watt solar panels that run on a 12-volt system or 8 100-watt solar panels if using a 24-volt system. This allows it to provide up to 350 watt-hours of charge daily but that will also be dependent on the sun’s availability.

Furthermore, there is an LCD screen, making the unit more convenient to use, as the screen displays the amp, voltage, temperature, DC load draw, and amp-hours of the system.

It also boasts of its external temperature sensor, which is controlled by software. It makes accurate adjustments of overcharge and over-discharge voltages, making it possible for you to maximize the life of the battery. 

However, take note that the kit does not supply the battery so you need to buy one on your own.

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    Works perfectly not only for RVs but also for cabins, boats, and homes
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    Provides free, clean, and renewable power
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    Adjustable settings for the built-in solar charge controller

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    LCD screen, displaying important details, like amp, voltage, temperature, and amp-hours

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    Accurate adjustments made in case of overcharge and over-discharge voltages – thanks to the built-in external temperature sensor

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    Battery not provided in the kit

Still, WindyNation 100-watt Solar Panel is one of the frontrunners in this industry as it has most of the features that an RV requires as far as the source of power is concerned.

3. HQST 100-watt 12-volt Mono-crystalline Solar Panel

I would also like to recommend the HQST 100-watt, 12-volt Mono-crystalline Solar Panel. It is actually a lightweight solar panel, which makes use of highly advanced mono-crystalline cells laminated into thin plastic sheets.

It results in the development of a solar panel, which is more efficient and durable than aluminum and glass models. I noticed that the frame of this solar panel is also made of corrosion-resistant aluminum and tempered glass – both materials are known to help improve the ability of each panel to handle snow loads and high wind.

This results in the better value and durability of the unit. I’m also impressed with the high-module conversion efficiency of the solar panel. It features bypass diodes that guarantee an impressive performance, especially when used in low-light environments.

Furthermore, there are pre-drilled holes that you can find at the panel’s back designed to promote ease and security when mounting it. With the advanced encapsulation materials that also feature multi-layered sheet laminations, I am also sure that the cells will have better performance and long service lives.

It is an easy-to-install solar panel, which works well for both rural and residential purposes. It lacks the bare wire MC4 connectors, though, which, I consider its weakness.

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    Provides a quick and secure mounting option – thanks to the presence of pre-drilled holes
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    Lightweight
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    Highly durable and efficient

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    Frame is made of aluminum and tempered glass – both of which can handle snow loads and extreme winds

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    Easy to install while working well on rural and residential functions

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    Does not come with bare wire MC4 connectors

Overall, this solar panel from HQST is a good buy as it is a lightweight solar panel known for its high-efficiency rating, impressive performance, and durability.

4. ALLPOWERS 100-watt, 12/18-volt Bendable Solar Panel - Editor's Choice

One of the most impressive facts about the ALLPOWERS 100-watt, 12/18-volt Bendable Solar Panel is that it makes use of the SunPower Solar Cell known for having an energy-efficiency rating of around 23-25%, which is higher than average.

It also works in preventing reverse current drain, which usually happens at night – thanks to its internal blocking diode. I noticed that this solar panel from ALLPOWERS works ideally for RVs, tight spaces, crowded areas, and boats, especially if they are off-limits to the traditional models that use aluminum and glass.

It suits battery use of 18 volts and 12 volts. Another nice thing about the solar panel is that it is bendable. I find the fact that you can bend or curve the panel to up to 30 degrees impressive because it promotes ease in mounting it to an RV, tent, cabin, boat, trailer, truck, car, or other irregular surfaces.

Another advantage of the unit is that it is lightweight while also being compact in size. Despite being lightweight and compact, there is still an assurance that the product is powerful and can perform what it needs to do. The lightweight nature of the unit makes it more convenient to transport, remove, and hang it.

Installing the unit is also quick and simple – thanks to its unique frameless design, as well as its 4 mounting holes reinforced with metal.

The controls are quite challenging to handle at first, though, but eventually, you’ll get used to them, especially when the unit is already up and running.

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    Provides a higher than average energy-efficiency rating of 23-25%
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    Prevents reverse current drain, thanks to the built-in internal blocking diode
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    Bendable, which makes it easy to mount it, even on irregular surfaces

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    Lightweight and compact, promoting ease in transporting, removing, and hanging it

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    Quick and simple installation process

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    Controls are quite difficult to use at first

Despite that, I can still say that this solar panel is one of the most flexible units you can find in the market, which is known for delivering what it promises in terms of performance, reliability, and energy-efficiency.

5. Renogy 200-watt 12-volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit - Editor's Choice

You’ll not also go wrong if you choose to invest in the Renogy 200-watt 12-volt Monocrystalline RV Solar Starter Kits. One of the things I like about this kit is its ability to recharge your batteries quietly, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without noise.

With this solar starter kit around, I’m sure that you can now easily run electrical equipment with limited and low wattage without the need for a power hook-up. Another benefit is its ability to deliver an ideal output – around 1,000-Wh daily.

Expect a 50Ah battery to be fully charged within just one and a half hours depending on the presence of the sun with this starter kit around. It makes use of the Renogy Wanderer charge controller (30A PWM), which is a huge help if you want to have an easier time expanding the unit to up to 400 watts max.

It works well for off-grid applications like in an RV, boat, cabin, shed, and trailer. This solar starter kit also features LED indicators, informing you about the status of the charge controller. One more thing; it is known for offering maximum protection against overload, reverse polarity, short-circuit, and overcharging.

You may encounter problems fastening the wires to the controller, though, but you can solve these by ensuring that the end parts of the wires are flattened out using large pliers.

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    Recharges batteries quietly
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    Promotes ease in running electrical equipment without requiring a power hook-up
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    Fully charging the battery only takes one and a half hours

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    Perfect for off-grid applications

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    Comes with LED indicators, allowing you to monitor closely the status of the charge controller

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    Fastening the wires to the controller might be an issue at first

Despite that flaw, this solar starter kit is still capable of delivering what it promises to users, especially if you check out all the features and components it has to offer.

6. Komaes 200-watt 12-volt Polycrystalline Solar Starter Kit

The last product I want to recommend is the Komaes 200-watt 12-volt Polycrystalline RV Solar System Kits. I’m sure that this solar panel won’t disappoint as it works well for industrial and domestic applications, especially those that require high-module conversion efficiency.

It has an impressive output – up to one thousand watt-hours every day. It also only takes one and a half hour to charge a 50Ah battery used for this solar panel fully. I also love the fact that RV solar panel kits are constructed in such a way that it can handle strong winds and heavy snow.

It delivers an excellent performance when used in low light environments, too. The system is also a big advantage as it is expandable up to 400 watts max. In addition, there are pre-installed PV solar panel diodes in the junction box.

What’s more? It already comes equipped with 30-inch cables paired up with MC4 connectors. Other nice and impressive features integrated into this solar panel are its special aluminum frame, highly advanced cell encapsulation, and highly efficient solar cells.

One common complaint about this product, though, is that the long cables designed to connect to the panels are prone to reversing polarity to the battery.

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    Works well for industrial and domestic applications
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    Delivers an impressive output – max of 1,000 watt-hours daily
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    Easy and quick to charge the battery

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    Capable of handling strong and heavy snow, as well as low light environments

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    Special aluminum material used for the frame, making it durable

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    Long cables might cause reverse polarity to the battery

Benefits of Investing in an RV Solar Panel

top 6 Best RV solar Panel

There are many positive things that you can expect to gain from investing in a high-quality RV solar panel. One is the fact that it lets you contribute to building a better future, which is free of pollution. It is known for being a great source of renewable energy, making it less damaging and harmful to the environment.

In addition, you will enjoy using it without having to spend too much. It can also offer an unlimited supply of energy. Another benefit offered by the best RV solar kit is that it aids in reducing global warming while also being cost-effective.

Overall, it has a low Co2 emission. What’s more? Installing the solar panel can also give you more control and freedom on your RV when compared to a traditional source of power. It is mainly because it does not require you to use an electric plug, making it easy for you to travel anywhere you want without having to stop to refill energy.

Furthermore, a solar panel is known for being portable and easy to install. Installing it only takes a short while. Also, a lot of recreational vehicles are designed to handle flexible solar panels well, giving you the chance to install the panels even in those parts where the traditional panels can’t handle.

Types of Solar Panel

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If you want to invest in a solar panel and have it installed in your RV, then it pays to understand its different types so you will get an idea about which one can benefit you the most. Note that the panel, or in some cases an array, which refers to a group of solar panels, works by capturing energy derived from sunlight.

The captured energy will then be passed to a charge controller wherein it will be fed at just the correct amount of current to your batteries with an aim of storing it. You can expect the whole process to increase efficiency as the PV or photovoltaic technology improves.

What’s good about most of these solar panels is that they are designed to work in the usual energy-efficiency rate of 10 to 15%. You can also find recent technologies often designed for high-end applications that can offer up to 21% efficiency.

When it comes to finding the best solar panels for RV 2017 - 2018, take note that all the solar cells used in these products are constructed from silicon. Also, remember that their construction and purity serve as the determining factors of the cost and overall efficiency of the solar cells and the entire panel.

To help you choose the right one for you, here are the most common types of solar panels that you can safely use for your recreational vehicle:

Mono-crystalline

One of the most distinctive traits of this type of solar panel is its wafer look. It makes use of silicon, which is then trimmed on four sides before slicing it into wafers. Such wafer-look is a huge help in reducing the cost as well as increasing the efficiency of the solar panel.

What is good about the mono-crystalline solar power is that you can expect it to deliver a better performance than the poly-crystalline type when applied in low-light or partially-shaded conditions.

However, take note that it also has a higher cost than the others considering the fact that it requires silicon to undergo an additional purification process, a process known for being costly.

Poly-crystalline

As for the poly-crystalline solar panel, you’ll instantly notice it because of its distinctive trait, which is the blue look. It also features cells that do not have a wafer look. Instead, they are rectangular in appearance.

It is due to the fact that this type does not undergo the trimming process used in the mono-crystalline solar panel. While this is a good choice for portable solar panels for rv reviews, take note that it has a crystalline structure, which you can’t expect to be as pure when you compare it to a mono-panel.

Also, note that in comparison to the mono, it has a slightly lower efficiency. It is known for producing less output, too. However, it is less expensive than the first type, which is the reason why many of those who have a limited budget prefer it. The low cost of the poly-crystalline solar panel also makes it ideal for large applications and installations.

Thin Film

This type of solar panel is known for its flexibility. It makes use of a newer technology for the panel as it works by applying silicon to a substrate surface, which aids in further reducing its cost. The cost reduction can be due to the fact that it requires less than one percent of the silicon used in a mono or poly solar panel with a similar size.

The problem is that it only has an energy-efficiency of 7-13%, a bit lower to the 15-20% efficiency often offered by the crystalline solar panels. However, there are also several advantages to the thin film type – one of which is the fact that you can integrate it into multiple objects.

In addition, it is also offered at a low cost, which makes it appealing to those who are planning to do large installations.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)

This is actually a kind of think film array capable of producing a better output in comparison to the other formats and kinds of thin film. It can offer an energy efficiency, which is close to around ten to twelve percent.

Another advantage of this type is that it has less cadmium content, which is known for being a toxic substance often added to solar panels.

How to Choose the Best RV Solar Panels, Kits?

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Now that you know about the different types of solar panels designed for RVs, it is time to understand what specific factors can contribute to your overall decision. You have a higher chance of picking a good solar panel for your vehicle if you take these factors into full consideration:

Quality and Efficiency

One of the things that you have to assess in the solar panels designed for RVs is their quality. Go for one known for its better quality as you can also expect it to give you the best supply of solar energy. If you’re willing to spend more for this product, then consider going for those made of photovoltaic cells.

It is mainly because these panels can provide up to thirty percent more energy-efficiency than those that are not photovoltaic. Note that the solar panels should be capable of delivering more energy so you can enjoy better energy savings. The higher amount of solar energy it delivers, the quicker you can gain the payoff for your investment.

Another thing that you have to look for when assessing the quality and efficiency of solar panels is advanced cell encapsulation. Keep in mind that the best solar panel for RVs is that which also has a no hot-spot technology. It means that it won’t heat up unevenly in just a single spot.

Uneven heating can significantly affect the durability and longevity of the panel. Ensure that the solar panels are designed to be highly durable, too. They should be capable of resisting harsh elements, like wind, snow, and water.

The best choice is also that, which can handle low-light conditions. All these qualities make a solar panel highly efficient and high in quality.

Electrical Output

You also have to check the electrical output that the solar panel can provide. This output is measured based on the number of watts that each solar cell can supply. Go for one with a higher cell wattage as it means that the cell and the entire panel are more productive.

However, take note that while investing in a highly efficient solar panel, which features a high wattage rating can result in better electrical output, it is also a bit troublesome as far as installation is concerned. In this case, it would be best to go for one with a high wattage rating designed for flat and angled installations.

Amount of Power Needed

Prior to hunting for the best portable RV solar panels reviews, you have to know the exact amount of power needed by your RV. If what you are looking for is just a solar panel for rv battery charging, which can provide enough power to recharge the battery of your vehicle, then low-priced solar power kits are already perfect for you.

However, if you want it to work as an alternative source of power for all the electrical equipment and onboard facilities in your vehicle, then go for robust and tough solar panel systems.

In case you don’t know the specific amount of power you need, then a wise tip is to start small by investing in a 2-panel set first. The good news is that this set will let you add more panels if needed over time, which is helpful in increasing the electrical output delivered by the entire system.

Expandability

You have to know whether the solar panel you are planning to buy has expandability options. This feature is a must as it lets you go greener consistently just by installing additional panels into the system. You’ll know that a solar panel is ideal for an RV if it lets you expand up to a max capacity of 400 watts.

Weight and Design

Make sure that you go for a solar panel, which is both lightweight and compact. It is because being on the road makes it totally troublesome to have a bulky and heavy solar panel installed on top of your vehicle.

However, finding a lightweight and compact solar panel might be an issue, especially if you are looking for one with a high-efficiency rating. It is because of the fact that the higher the solar panel’s efficiency, the bigger its size. You may have a hard time hunting for one, which is both highly-efficient and compact.

In this case, it would be best to just invest in smaller ones. You can just buy at least two panels so you can gain a high output and efficiency without having to deal with the bulkiness and heaviness of the unit.

Ease of Installation

Another thing you have to take note of is whether or not the solar panel is easy to install. Note that there are instances when you need to take down the solar panel while you are on the road then install it again. If it is too difficult to install and you have no access to a mechanic, then it will definitely be a problem.

That said, check whether you won’t have a hard time installing the unit yourself. If possible, go for those with pre-drilled holes so you won’t spend too much time taking them down and installing them if necessary.

Conclusion

The best RV solar panel is indeed a great component of any camper or RV. It lets you generate a good supply of energy provided there is sunlight. With that, expect to enjoy longer trips that will also let you take part in many exciting adventures without having to worry about power and energy for your RV.

Learn more about how to choose the best RV battery, best RV deep cycle battery and best RV surge protectors 2018 with buyer's guide and in-depth reviews. By the way, have a look at our best RV generators, best RV inverters and best RV converter chargers to make living in an RV easier and more comfortable!

Shopping for the Best RV Solar Panels and Kits 2018
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